As we are overwhelmed with makeup tutorials and viral challenges on TikTok Tok & YouTube, it’s hard for a performer to stand out from the crowd. New York City drag performer Sierra Misst has managed to crack the code though, and amassed an eye -popping 300 hundred thousand followers on TikTok (kicking off with her second video)! As a member of The Haus Of Edwards (under the tutelage of political firebrand and dazzling performer Marti Gould Cummings) Misst has taken per Broadway passion sensibilities and crafted looks around everything from legendary Disney villains to David Bowie! I sat down with this emerging creator and performer to chat about his emergence as a force in the drag world during a truly surreal year, how he merges his passion for live theater with the art of drag, and where the inspiration for so many of these looks come from.
Michael Cook: How did you dive into the world of drag?
Sierra Misst: Like a lot of other drag queens in New York City, I actually went to school for musical theatre performance. Shortly after graduating from AMDA NY, I was fortunate enough to be cast in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert: The Musical on Norwegian Cruise Line! While I had a love and passion for drag already, this was the first thing that really pushed me into doing it myself. I was very grateful to have my first post-college, professional theatre experience be drag and musical theatre together! What more could you ask for??
Michael Cook: Broadway and the performing arts are a big part of who you are as a performer. When did you know that would be one of your passions?
Sierra Mist: Ever since I was a kid, I remember watching the Tony Awards on TV every summer and thinking to myself how incredible it would be to sing and dance for a living. My obsession grew through watching Broadway clips on YouTube and joining my middle school’s show-choir. As high school came around, my academics slid to the back burner as I gave all my extra time to the show-choir program and spring musicals. I knew that I wanted to pursue some form of art in college, but didn’t think my abilities would be up to snuff to chase a major in performing. I applied to Western Michigan University’s Costume Design program and had the option to apply/audition for a second program in the theatre department in the same day. I figured I’d take a chance and audition for their Music Theatre Performance program as well, though I didn’t have high hopes for myself.
I ended up being accepted to both! I chose to attend for Music Theatre Performance. After a year in the program, I was really struggling to keep up in my general education classes and the head of the department, Jay Berkow, suggested that I audition for a conservatory program at a different school. From there, I found The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City!
I auditioned, was accepted, and the rest is history!
MC:What are some of your best Broadway experiences?
SM: While I still have dreams of performing on Broadway, I haven’t gotten there just yet. I did however, receive the chance to join the UK Touring Cast of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert: The Musical for a limited run at the gorgeous (and large) Civic Auditorium in Auckland, New Zealand. That felt like Broadway to me.
One of the most magical experiences of my career so far.
MC: Drag in New York City can be pretty challenging and competitive; how have you made your own unique stamp? Who do you consider part of your own drag family or tribe?
SM: To be honest, with all the travel that I’ve done with Priscilla in recent years, I haven’t made much of a stamp on the NYC club scene just yet. I’ve done one bar pageant and had a few guest spots here and there, but I look forward to more opportunities opening up once the pandemic has taken it’s seat once and for all.
I am however, a part of a drag family!
My legendary drag mother, Marti Gould-Cummings is the head of The Haus Of Cummings consisting of myself, and my sisters Selma Nilla, Peachez, Blake Deadly, and Janae SaisQuoi.
MC: RuPaul’s Drag Race is looked at as a fantastic goal for many performers to achieve. What are your thoughts on the competition? Any thoughts on ever taking a crack at it yourself?
SM: I love RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s my favorite show on TV. It inspires me, it scares me, I dream about it. It’s the biggest platform for drag artists that there has ever been and I believe it has changed how many people perceive the LGBTQIA for the better. I have never auditioned, but I think about it a lot. I’m toying with the idea of throwing my hat in the ring for Season 15.
MC: When did you decide to start putting your looks on TikTok and what has the response been? Any looks coming up you can sneak peek?
SM: I started on TikTok just as a “watcher” because I was so bored in lockdown last summer and I was looking for ways to kill time. I kept seeing cool makeup videos and thinking, “I could totally do that!” I eventually got around to uploading some transformation videos and my SECOND video (where I turned myself into Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) went crazy viral and I gained a ton of followers practically overnight. I decided to ride the wave and continue making videos and now I’m almost to 300K followers just since November! Wild.
I love an element of surprise, so I don’t like to give too much away before I post a new video, but come see me! @evandubbs on TikTok!
MC: What’s next for you?
SM: As long as we’re in pandemic land, I’ll be staying safe in Detroit and making more TikTok videos! Currently planning to return to NYC in early May when the weather is milder and bars and restaurants are open outside again!
Hoping to be able to perform live in the city through the Summer!
MC: How have you stayed inspired and creatively infused during this crazy year?
SM: I can’t lie, it can be challenging. It’s not always easy to muster up energy and inspiration just from inside myself, but as soon as I push myself over the wall so to speak, I always feel better knowing that I’ve created something new.
A new look, a new video, tried a new makeup technique, applied a prosthetic for the first time etc. It always helps me to know that my little videos are bringing people joy right in the comfort of their own homes, amidst the chaos of this last year. Just spreading some smiles feels like the biggest payoff. That really inspires me to keep creating.